George W. Bush hacker Guccifer pleads guilty

Hacker likely faces jail time for illegally accessing private messages of Romanian politicians.


Tim Sampson

Internet Culture

Published May 28, 2014   Updated May 31, 2021, 5:53 am CDT

A notorious hacker who broke into the email accounts of dozens of high-profile public figures pleaded guilty to criminal charges in his home country of Romania this week.

Marcel Lazar Lehel—better known by his online alias “Guccifer“—admitted Monday to hacking the accounts of several Romanian victims, including George-Christian Maior, head of the nation’s intelligence service, and Corina Cretu, a Romanian politician and member of the European Parliament.

The hack of Cretu’s email made headlines last year when it revealed a “very personal” correspondence between the Romanian politician and former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. Guccifer had also previously hacked into Powell’s email.

Lehel, 42, was somewhat apologetic during his plea, according to the Smoking Gun, but he remained insistent that his hacks had not caused any actual damage to Romania’s national security. Lehel was arrested in a January raid on his home and has been in prison ever since.

His sentence will be decided at a later date by a judicial tribunal. Lehel will most likely face jail time, given that he was previously convicted of email hacking in 2012 and received a suspended sentence at that time.

In the past, Lehel’s email hacks have been prolific. It was thanks to Lehel that that we were first exposed to former President George W. Bush’s newfound interest in painting after he hacked the Bush family’s email acocunts. He’s also broke into the email accounts of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein, Silicon Valley investor John Doerr, and Sex in the City author Candace Bushnell, among others.

In describing his motivations to the Smoking Gun last year, Lehel said he wanted to embarrass members of the illuminati and other secretive groups that he claims control the world.

“The evil is leading this fucked up world!!!!!!,” he said. “I tell you this the world of tomorrow will be a world free of illuminati or will be no more.”

In addition to charges in Romania, Lehel  faces an ongoing criminal investigation here in the United States, where FBI and Secret Service agents have been inspecting the Guccifer hacks since February of 2013.

Photo by MIKI Yoshihito/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: May 28, 2014, 2:28 pm CDT